Head of School Announcement
The Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Nathan Quesnel as the next Head of School, replacing Dr. Brian Kelly whose last day is June 30, 2023.
Quesnel, who currently serves as Superintendent of Schools in East Hartford, is scheduled to start July 1, 2023.
“We know the landscape presents both great opportunities and great challenges. In this environment, it was important for us to find a leader who will not only continue to guide the work to secure our place as a leading secondary school in the state, but also continue to build upon and grow the fundamental pride so many have in this institution,” said DeVol Joyner, chair of the NFA Board of Trustees. “The Board is confident we have found that leader in Nathan Quesnel. With his experience in East Hartford, as well as his knowledge of the region and state, he is poised to help grow the Academy while preserving the many traditions important to it.”
“I am so grateful for the trust put in me by the Board of Trustees,” Quesnel said. “As I have progressed through the recruitment and interview process, I have been excited about the opportunity to become part of the rich tradition and reputation of NFA. From the very beginning of this process, I was drawn to the unique governance structure of the Academy and the rich cultural tapestry that makes this school such a special place. While I know great work has been done, great work must continue. I look forward to working together to ensure we are preparing our students for success and fulfilling the mission first presented by John P. Gulliver more than 150 years ago.”
Quesnel, who has been in his current role since 2012, oversees 15 schools and more than 7,000 students. He was elevated to that position after serving for three years as principal of East Hartford Middle School and two years as assistant principal at East Hartford High School. Quesnel joined the East Hartford district in 2002 as an English teacher.
In addition to his daily duties, Quesnel has held both local and national leadership positions. He is currently the co-lead of the American Association of School Administrators Radical Family Engagement Cohort which examines how schools connect and work with parents. He also currently serves as the president of the Hartford Area Superintendent’s Association. He is co-chair of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Alliance District Committee and the Connecticut Association of Urban Superintendents.
“East Hartford has been an incredible place to grow and learn as a teacher and leader,” said Quesnel. “I am forever indebted to the EHPS community, faculty and students who have trusted in me for so long and taught me so much. I look forward to taking the lessons I have learned to this new opportunity that is eager to embrace the values of effort and excellence. As I consider the opportunity that lies ahead at NFA, I can’t wait to work together with a talented administration, faculty and student body. We have exciting things ahead, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Quesnel recently received his Doctorate from the University of Connecticut, which is where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He completed his sixth year education at Southern Connecticut State University and his 093 certification from Central Connecticut State University.
Quesnel, who lives in Portland, is married with seven children.
The search for a new Head of School began after Kelly announced in February he planned to depart NFA after his contract was completed.
“We had an incredibly competitive pool of candidates,” said Dr. David Kalla, a member of the NFA Board of Trustees and the chair of the search committee. “We are grateful for the assistance of our partners at Educators Collaborative for helping us identify and vet the interested candidates.”
Kalla acknowledged and thanked the search committee established to guide the process. Besides Kalla and Joyner, committee members were Betsy Conway, Denise Lindell and Todd Postler.
As I have progressed through the recruitment and interview process, I have been excited about the opportunity to become part of the rich tradition and reputation of NFA. From the very beginning of this process, I was drawn to the unique governance structure of the Academy and the rich cultural tapestry that makes this school such a special place. While I know great work has been done, great work must continue. I look forward to working together to ensure we are preparing our students for success and fulfilling the mission first presented by John P. Gulliver more than 150 years ago.